Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March 8: 'Grapes Production' Viticulture and 'Backyard Basics' Symposium

Weekends in March and April are often packed with exciting lectures in the gardening world - so many, it's often hard to choose what to attend.

Here are two Piedmont events on Saturday, March 8, 2014 - register soon!
Grape Production Workshop
Time:  Saturday, March 8 from 10 - noon. 
Location: Adams Vineyard and Winery, 3390 John Adams Rd., Willow Springs, NC 27593.
Contact: Shawn Banks, Consumer Horticulture Agent at (919) 989-5380. 

This will be a great opportunity to learn from the Viticulture Specialist at NC State University, Dr. Sara Spayd, about producing grapes in Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Spayd will speak on grape variety selection, trellising, and pruning grape vines. After the workshop you will have the chance to visit the gift shop at the winery to get something to take home.
Backyard Gardening: Getting Down to Basics

Time:  March 8, registration at 8:30 a.m.
Location:  First Presbyterian Church’s fellowship hall, 222 Young St., Henderson, NC.
CONTACT: Paul McKenzie, NC Cooperative Extension, 252-438-8188;
SPONSOR: Kerr Lake Extension Master Gardener Volunteers (KLEMGV)

"Backyard Gardening: Getting Down to Basics" will offer four diverse topics and speakers including: herbs, small-scale vegetable gardening, edible flowers and plants and vermicomposting.

Rhonda Sherman, an NCSU extension specialist better known as the “The Compost Queen” for her leadership in vermiculture technology, will be keynote speaker during lunch preceding an optional Worm Bin Construction Workshop. Sherman’s extensive background in solid waste management and environmental resources has led her to work with communities throughout the United States as well as with 92 countries interested in vermiculture. In addition, since 2001, she has coordinated an annual conference on large-scale vermicomposting, which currently remains the only such training available worldwide.


 9:15 a.m.: “All About Herbs”: John Wrenn of J&B Herb and Plant Farm

10:15 a.m.:  “Small Scale Vegetable Gardening”: Lyn Frye, the Granville Gardeners

11:15 a.m.:  “The Beauty of Edible Plants in Garden Design”: Julieta Sherk, NCSU Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Noon: Lunch and “Nurturing Soil and Plants with Vermicompost:”: Rhonda Sherman, 

1:30-3 p.m.: Optional Worm Bin Workshop (requires additional registration and fee for all materials to make bin, plus one pound of starter worms to “eat your garbage”)

Early Bird Registration for the basic symposium (including lunch, excluding workshop) is $15 and ends March 1; afterwards, the registration fee is $20. 
Early registration for the symposium plus workshop is $40; after March 1, the fee is $50.

More information and registration forms may be downloaded online at For more information, contact or call NCSU Cooperative Extension Vancegarden. Phone 252-438-8188 (Vance); 252-257-3640 (Warren).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weed Prevention for Roses: Tips from Witherspoon Rose Culture

There are several methods for eliminating weeds. The recommended method of weed control for your rose garden is to hand-pick any existing weeds and apply a 3-4 inch layer of mulch. Witherspoon Rose Culture suggests our WRC Pine Mini-Nuggets. It is important to use mulch rather than pine straw as pine straw quickly compacts and breaks down causing too much acid in the soil for you roses. 

Pre-emergent herbicides, those that kill the weed by inhibiting germination of the seeds are less likely to damage a rose bush. These herbicides should be applied in early spring 3-5 weeks before weeds begin to sprout. 

Witherspoon's Suggested Pre-emergent Herbicides:

1) Treflan Weed and Grass Stopper $12.99
Many weed killers such as Round Up can seriously harm your roses. If used improperly, weed killer can stunt growth, kill the leaves and stalks of your rose bush, cause deformation of the plant and inhibit flower formation for an entire season. If you must use a post-emergent herbicide, choose a day with no winds to reduce possible damage due to drift. You can also paint on the herbicide to each individual weed rather than spraying. Or, you can try a more organic approach and use the product Burn Out II. Burn Out II is an organic oil based spray that kills weeds by causing the weeds to burn up in the sun.

Try Our Weed Bandit! A great tool that helps pull weeds for you in the garden.
Witherspoon's Suggested Post-emergent Herbicides:
1) Burn Out II organic weed and grass killer $10.99
2) Vantage Grass Killer $39.99

Call to Purchase...1-800-643-0315

The Best Orchid Pots, Victorian by Design

Hole Up (from left): Gothic Arch Bowl, 5 inches tall, $24,;
Aged Orchid Planter, 7 inches tall, $36,                      
Photo by Stephen Johnson for WSJ.
By Courtney Barnes    
Feb. 14, 2014, WSJ
EACH YEAR, around this time, orchids have a moment. Botanical gardens from New York to Atlanta to London fill their glass houses with exotically speckled and striated blooms that ignore unpleasant realities such as polar vortexes, and blithely evoke tropical climes. These annual displays offer winter-weary visitors a chance to see the sort of opulent species that rarely show up at their local nurseries.

In Victorian England, however, when plant hunters first brought orchids back from South America or Asia, any variety was literally an otherworldly sight—and dangerously out of its element. "Precious as a moon rock, it needed an entirely new type of container to stay alive," said Susan Tamulevich, director of the Custom House Maritime Museum in Connecticut and curator of "A Place to Take Root," an exhibition of historical flower pots that toured the U.S. in 2005.
Campania International Gwyneth Planter,
6 inches tall, $110 for four,
Hexagon Ceramic Orchid Pot, approx.
8 inches tall, $60,
As the story goes, said Ms. Tamulevich, after years of trial and error, Sir Joseph Banks, one of those Victorian plant hunters, tried housing his flowers in clay pots whose sides were peppered with holes. He was onto something. Explained Becky Brinkman, manager of the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Fuqua Orchid Center: "Most tropical orchids are epiphytes that grow perched in the branches of trees where they receive tremendous air circulation. In cultivation, they have happier, longer lives if given more air around the roots than conventional pots provide." Today, experts still favor riffs on such pierced, airy vessels.

Twenty-first-century styles range from the neo-primitive to the Deco-inspired. In Terrain's Gothic Arch Bowl, strips of rough white cement form a loose web of leaflike shapes, while quirky latticework gives Campania International's glazed ceramic Gwyneth planter a casual beauty. Repotme's green hexagon ceramic pot, featuring teardrop cutouts, would have looked at home in a 1930s Hollywood villa.

Orchid Pot, approx. 5 inches tall,
For some orchid enthusiasts, though, the charms of legitimately old and more purely utilitarian pots are unparalleled. Abbie Zabar—a New York-based gardener, artist and collector of antique terra-cotta—owns a couple of the coveted vintage holey orchid pots. "They are hefty, dark and divine," she said, "with bottoms like an old bottle of Burgundy wine and the stamp of the maker—Sanders, Orchid Pots and Pans—still visible." Though she hasn't been able to date them precisely, an 1899 horticultural journal cites Sanders as the best source of orchid pots. "If you come across any antique pot and can afford it," she said, "buy it because you may never find one again." Ms. Zabar is currently collaborating with Siebert & Rice, the Short Hills, N.J., purveyors of Impruneta terra-cotta, on a contemporary twist on vintage English pots.
Los Angeles interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein also loves the older pots but suggested Wolff Pottery's American-made versions—featuring classical, round side holes—as a less elusive alternative. In a similar but more weathered vein, mossy pots from L.A.'s Inner Gardens look as if "Downton Abbey"'s Dowager Countess of Grantham's gardener just pulled them from a greenhouse shelf.
Whatever planter you use, be sure the orchids have adequate drainage, advised Ms. Brinkman, and are potted not in soil but in a chunky, commercially available "orchid mix." Anyone with a thumb sufficiently green to keep multiple plants thriving might want to emulate legendary orchid grower Enid Annenberg Haupt, for whom the New York Botanical Garden's Victorian-style conservatory is named: In her Park Avenue apartment, Ms. Haupt decked a staircase with the exotic plants, one orchid for every step, whether it was February or not.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Flower School: A Bouquet Based on a Klimt Masterpiece

Gustav Klimt's 1907-08 painting
'The Kiss' Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

By Lindsey Taylor
Jan. 17, 2014, WSJ

After the Holidays, as the gray days of New York's winter settle in, I have two
favorite ways to escape. The first is to surf the Web fantasizing about a vacation with turquoise water; the second is to drag my shivering self to the intimate Neue Galerie museum, located on the Upper East Side in a 1914 landmark building whose rich palette leaves me feeling warm. The collection encompasses Austrian and German art—sculpture, paintings, decorative arts and more—from the 1890s to the 1940s.

I even find it transporting to lunch at the museum's restaurant, CafĂ© Sabarsky, modeled after the grand Viennese cafes. While enjoying a bowl of toothsome chestnut soup there earlier this year, I flipped through a book on the work of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), the Austrian symbolist painter and one of the Neue Galerie's star attractions—and homed in on the inspiration for January's arrangement. I'd always thought Klimt's famous 1907-08 painting, "The Kiss" (which is housed in an Austrian museum), was mainly gold leaf, but closer inspection revealed blues, purples, cadmium red, emerald green, yellow, pink and dashes of black.

The resplendent colors in Gustav Klimt's 1907-08 painting 'The Kiss'
are picked up in the romantic bouquet at right, thanks to yellow
mimosa, ranunculus in red and gold, violet anemones,
yellow tulips and dark purple calla lilies. One-of-a-kind vessel from
 White Forest Pottery, Photo: Stephen
Johnson for WSJ. Flower Styling by Lindsey Taylor.

For the arrangement's vessel, I chose a personal favorite by potter Nancy Bausch of San Francisco's White Forest Pottery. Its swelling, murky form echoed the shape of the painting's entwined lovers and the weight of the black slashes on the man's robe. For the bouquet itself, I started with a base of yellow mimosa; its ferny green foliage and small puffs of yellow flowers nicely conjured the canvas's complex, dotted background. I'd never noticed how the flowers on the woman's dress resemble ranunculus. I picked up some red and rich yellow ones, readily available this time of year, to fill in the arrangement.

Anemones supplied a blue-ish purple note, a stem of yellow oncidium orchid added height, yellow tulips increased the golden glow's intensity and dark purple calla lilies deepened the mix.

To be honest, it's a color combination I wouldn't have tried had I not been guided by Klimt. 

Rose Care Calendar: Tips from Witherspoon Rose Culture

Rose gardeners can mark their gardening calendars with these tips and crucial dates (weather permitting!) from the experts at Witherspoon Rose Culture and reap hardy and gorgeous Rosa flowerbeds for 2014.

Rose Care Calendar
  • Apply dormant spray (Lime-Sulfur) to existing rose bushes 
  • Order your new bareroot roses online from Witherspoon to be shipped to you OR pick up your new bareroot roses in the Garden Shop
  • Begin planting bareroot roses
  • Prune existing roses
  • Plant bareroot roses
  • Apply Witherspoon Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer or a quick-release fertilizer to established plants
  • Plant bareroot roses
  • Remove mulch, topdress with a 2" layer or cow manure and replace mulch
  • If you are not using Witherspoon Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer, apply slow-release fertilizer now or continue monthly feedings of quick-release fertilizer through mid-August (or 6 weeks prior to expected frost.)
  • Continue planting potted roses
  • Continue spray program
  • Deadhead roses
  • Water weekly
  • Order new roses in October
  • Prepare new beds for planting
  • Order new roses
  • Every 2-3 years, have the soil tested and adjust the pH level to a range of 6-6.5

  • Cut back roses to "waist high" (About 3 feet)
  • Place mulch 6 inches high over the graft for winter protection
  • Order new roses

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Whiteflies Feast on Indoor Plants

If you've moved container plants such as herbs and other edibles indoors for the winter, you may have noticed a dusting of white insects on the leaves. This critter can often identified as the Greenhouse Whitefly.
Here is some helpful information from the North Carolina Extension Office on Whiteflies. (Your best treatment options are horticultural soaps and oils to not poison household pets or outdoor critters, like honeybees, when you move the plant back!)

Whiteflies make a home on a potted mint,
Mentha piperitaPhoto by J. Corser.

By: Steven Frank and James R. Baker, Extension Entomologist Emeritus

CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.

General Information
GREENHOUSE WHITEFLY, Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood), Aleurodidae, HOMOPTERA

The greenhouse whitefly is a tiny (1/16 inch long insect that resembles a tiny moth). The almost microscopic, oblong, pale green to purple eggs are inserted into the lower leaf surface, often in a circle or crescent. The tiny nymph, yellow with red eyes, becomes a flat scale-like insect appressed to the lower leaf surface that grows to about 1/32 inch long.
Greenhouse whiteflies are worldwide pests of greenhouse-grown ornamentals and vegetables. First discovered in England in 1856, they were found in the United States in 1870. Tropical Central or South America are suggested origins of the greenhouse whitefly. Greenhouse whiteflies infest a wide variety of ornamental and vegetable crops, and they can survive outdoors during the growing season, particularly in sheltered locations. Even trees may be infested (redbud, Kentucky coffee berry, and avocado). Infested plants become chlorotic and unthrifty. Secondary infections of honeydew and sooty mold further detract from the appearance of the crop. Unless controlled, greenhouse whiteflies may completely destroy the commercial value of a floricultural crop. Greenhouse whiteflies reproduce slowly (a generation every 30 to 45 days), but each female may lay up to 400 eggs and live as long as 2 months. Adults are usually found on the lower surface of new
leaves. Here they insert their eggs that hatch 5 to 7 days later. The new crawlers move about the plant for a day or two, often from leaf to leaf before inserting their mouthparts to feed. Once this occurs, they probably do not move again until mature. The crawlers molt into nymphs and then pupae. Finally, a new generation of whitish-yellow adults emerges. They are soon covered by a white, waxy bloom.

It was previously thought that lower greenhouse temperatures used in the culture of some bedding and potted plant varieties tended to encourage infestations because naturally occurring parasitic wasps (Encarsia formosa) are reproductively inhibited at temperatures below 75F. This does not seem to be the case. The Encarsia formosa, now in the commercial biological control trade, seems to works well at most greenhouse temperatures. Chemical control of whiteflies is difficult because the eggs and immature forms are resistant to many aerosol and insecticide sprays. One must make regular applications of pesticides to control emerging adults until the last of a whole  generation of immature whiteflies has emerged.

DCGC Chooses Blue Star Memorial Program as 2013-14 Philanthropic Project, April 27 Dedication Planned

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs will be celebrating Veterans with a new memorial marker in front of the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Durham this April.

Blue Star Memorial marker sponsored
by the Mooresville Garden Club.
The marker is part of the Blue Star Memorial Marker program created by the Garden Clubs of America after WWII in conjunction with Department of Transportation to pay tribute with a living memorial to the Armed Forces of America. The Durham Council sponsored this marker ($1,350) as its chosen 2013-14 Durham area philanthropic project. The Blue Star Memorial Marker program falls under Environmental Programs of the North Carolina DOTand is grouped with the NC Wildflowers program and Adopt a Highway program among others. 

The Triangle public is invited to attend a dedication ceremony and celebration on Saturday, April 27 with the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. (The Durham marker will be the first Blue Star marker of Durham, Wake and Orange Counties.) The dedication ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. at the Durham VA Hospital, 508 Fulton St., Durham, 27705.

(from the Garden Clubs of North Carolina,

At the close of World War II, National Garden Clubs (called National Council of Garden Clubs at the time), like other public spirited groups, was seeking a suitable means of honoring our service men and women. Garden Club members visualized a living memorial, preferring to help beautify and preserve the country these men and women had fought for, rather than build stone monuments in their honor.

In 1944, Mrs. Lewis M. Hull, Garden Club of New Jersey President and future NCSGC President, and Mrs. Vance Hood, Roadside Chairman, had an inspired idea. One thousand flowering Dogwood trees would be planted along five miles of highway, which had been designated the Blue Star Drive by the Legislature. No billboards were to be allowed on the memorial stretch. The project was named for the blue star in the service flag, which hung in windows of homes and businesses to honor service men and women.

The guest speaker at the 1945 National Council of State Garden Clubs Annual Meeting in New York City was Spencer Miller, New Jersey’s State Highway Commissioner, who had helped to implement the New Jersey project. He proposed that the program be adopted by NCSGC. At the 1945 Fall Semi-Annual Meeting, the project was approved. A “ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state” called The Blue Star Memorial Highway Program was adopted at the 1946 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

In 1947, Mrs. Frederick R. Kellogg (NCSGC President 1930-1933) designed a marker, which would identify the highways. 
Garden Clubs responded enthusiastically, with Rhode Island receiving the first endorsement. After official approval of the site, garden clubs would purchase markers and planting materials. Highway Departments would plant and maintain the area. This was the first program undertaken by garden clubs on a national scale.

While it originally began to honor World War II veterans, the Blue Star Memorial program enlarged its mission in 1951 to include all men and women, who had served, were serving or would serve in the armed forces of the United States. The need for an extension of the program to accommodate other than dedicated highways became apparent. As a result, a smaller by-way marker to be placed in areas such as parks, civic and historical grounds, was approved at the 1981 convention in Atlanta. This marker was changed at the 1994 convention in Connecticut to be more descriptive by including the words “A tribute to the Armed Forces of America.”

A third marker had been added at the 1996 convention in Michigan. This marker was identical to the original Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker, except for the removal of the word “Highway.” This change allowed the marker to be placed on the grounds of a National Cemetery or Veterans Administration Center. At the 2004 convention in St. Louis, the scope of this marker was enlarged to include other appropriate civic locations.

For more information on the Blue Star Memorial program and a directory of markers in North Carolian by county, see